So many of us, particularly those interested in health, have the tendency to look for hidden treasures or missing links in life. We scour and search, using our metaphorical magnifying glass, looking for those little things that when discovered, really have an impact. Eyes focused and dialed in, peering through that lens, searching for the little golden nuggets of wellness.
Look no further than magnesium.
The ninth most abundant element in the universe. The fourth most abundant element on Earth. The eleventh most abundant element in the human body. The most important mineral in the body you may have never known much about is a health golden nugget.
Although magnesium is most commonly known as just a laxative, when it comes to the body, it literally runs the show.
Magnesium ions are essential to all cells of all living organisms, playing a major role in in the human body from the regulation of our overall system all the way down to the cellular (ATP) and even genetic (DNA and RNA) levels. More than 300 enzymes rely upon magnesium as the catalyst for action.
60% of the body’s magnesium is in the skeleton, 39% in the cells and 1% in the body’s fluids. The muscles hold 20% of the body’s magnesium.
Some Interesting Notes on Magnesium
Experts believe we are now in the third or fourth generation of magnesium deficiency. From soil degradation to increased stress and calcium consumption, the body has been slowly drained of it’s magnesium stores for the last 100 years without adequate replenishment through food and environment.
Nearly every major disease has roots that can traced back to a deficiency in magnesium.
Magnesium is known to have numerous health benefits including regulating blood sugar, improving bladder control, increasing bone density and collagen formulation, improving heart health and muscle function throughout the body (eg. cramps, back pain, irregular heart beat), relief for asthma, optimizing blood pressure, promoting healthy pregnancies and deliveries, improving psychiatric disorders, relieving/limiting migraines, enzyme activation, vitamin and mineral absorption and availability, seizure control, digestive regulation and general parasympathetic stimulation.
The most important role of magnesium is likely between magnesium and calcium. Calcium and magnesium work in concert in the body. Together, when balanced, each contribute to a well functioning body. Excess calcium without adequate magnesium leads to inflammation and signaling of the sympathetic stress response. An imbalance of these minerals leads to calcification. Think plaque in the arteries, kidney stones, gall stones, etc. Magnesium keeps calcium at bay. This balance helps everything in the body. All of the conditions listed above are likely helped via this process.
Magnesium = relax. Calcium = excite. Cramping muscles? Magnesium. Want to relax? Magnesium. Think about mineral baths- main ingredient is magnesium.
Magnesium has been used by humans in various forms for thousands of years. Sick people were sent to the ocean, the richest source of magnesium on the planet, to breathe the sea air, bathe and swim in the ocean and just feel the sea mist. Roman baths contained magnesium. Epsom salts, used for a number of health ailments- same thing, magnesium sulfate.
Chlorophyll, he component of plants that is so health promoting, is derived from magnesium.
Magnesium provides cofactors to make all the vitamins you eat viable.
Magnesium promotes water flow into the colon which helps intestinal motility, a nice thing for many people.
Magnesium is what makes bones hard. Calcium is weak on its own. Think about chalk (calcium carbonate): drop it on the floor and it breaks. Add magnesium to the mix and you get ivory. Ivory bounces.
How to Mag-nify Your Health
This is simply a matter of reducing the sources of drain on magnesium then increasing the intake. Here’s some things you can do to help optimize your magnesium levels…
Stress is the biggest drain on magnesium. The more you can live in parasympathetic tone (relaxed) the better. The more stressed you are the quicker you use up magnesium. Even something as simple as lack of sleep can ravage your body’s magnesium stores.
Being grateful will activate the parasympathetic tone and will light up your brain more than any other emotional state. As mentioned before, the more you can spend time in a relaxed state the better. Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to put your brain in the ideal state.
Eat Mineral Rich Foods
Greens (leafy in particular)
Sea greens (kelp in particular)
Dark chocolate (the higher % the better)
Sea Salt/Himalayan Salt
Easy on the Calcium Foods
Focus on getting most of your calcium from greens, a balanced source of calcium and magnesium. Dairy sources are ok in moderation and only if tolerated. Cheese, while tasty and convenient, has one of the worst calcium to magnesium ratios of any food available.
Get to the Ocean
Not easy for everyone but if you live close, go seaward. Even if you are just walking on the beach, you are breathing in and absorbing magnesium. Want to magnify even more? Go for a swim.
Vacation to ocean destinations if you can. Palm trees are a good indication of magnesium rich soil.
I typically recommend supplementing with a purpose, selectively and temporarily. Magnesium supplementation is looking like a safe all around mineral for nearly everyone nearly all the time. If you feel like you can’t get enough magnesium in your food, have too much calcium or are bombarded with stress, look into supplemental magnesium.
Look for chelated forms of magnesium, such as glycinate, taurate, oratate, citrate, di magnesium malate or L threonate (brain specific assimilation). Steer away from the aspartate, glutamate and oxide forms. Supplements that contain potassium can assist in the assimilation of magnesium, particularly if you are low in dietary potassium. Magnesium oil or salts in a bath can be a nice way to supplement and some people like adding mineral drops to their drinking water. Even intravenous use is becoming popular because of its effectiveness.
Typically you can be more aggressive with the dosage of supplemental magnesium but the body will tell you when you are approaching your upper limit when your stool becomes loose. The cheaper the form of magnesium the quicker you will notice this effect. Milk of Magnesia, which is magnesium hydroxide, doesn’t take too long to take its toll.
Note: it is dangerous to use magnesium supplements with existing kidney disease. Check the link at the bottom for more details if you fit in this category.
Test If You Want To Be Sure
Although nearly everyone is likely low in magnesium, you can always test your levels to see where you stand. Hair mineral analysis is usually the best option as it is pretty accurate, can be done easily and is relatively inexpensive. A red blood cell magnesium test is good but requires a bit more work to obtain. Serum blood tests typically do not give accurate results and are not recommended. The best assay, an Ionized Electrolyte test, is not widely accessible and unfortunately very hard to get.
So there’s the basics of what some call the “magnesium miracle”- if you want to learn more, check out Magnesium Man at magnesiumman.com for everything magnesium.
Thanks for reading, have a mag-nified week!